GUHOYAS
Sophomore wide receiver Michael Dereus hauled in four catches for 83 yards in Georgetown’s loss to Fordham on Sunday.

In its second Patriot League contest last Sunday, the Georgetown football team kept its matchup with Fordham close for three quarters before the Rams pulled away to win 17-9.

The Hoyas (1-6, 0-2 Patriot League) were unable to find rhythm on the offense, totaling only 11 first downs all afternoon in what became their sixth loss of the year. Meanwhile, the defense bounced back from giving up 54 points a week ago to allow only 17 points to the Rams (2-6, 1-2 Patriot League) while forcing three

“Offensively, we need to be more efficient, obviously. We gave up three sacks, and I think we had three holding calls, all of which is not being efficient. In the passing game, we need to do a better job at protection to get our guy some cleaner throws,” Head Coach Rob Sgarlata said.

Sophomore wide receiver Michael Dereus shined for an otherwise stagnant Georgetown offense as he recorded four receptions for 83 yards, including a huge 57-yard reception to set up the Hoyas’ only touchdown of the game.

In his first career start, sophomore quarterback Gunther Johnson went 17-of-35 for 196 yards and one touchdown. The Hoyas were held to a season low of 43 yards rushing and scored only nine points, a stark contrast to their 35-point game against Lehigh (2-5, 2-0 Patriot League).

“Holistically, I would say my performance in this loss was bad, and I understand that many different things go into a game, but I don’t think I performed up to what I am capable of and what I should have done in this game,” Johnson said. “We can’t go 17-of-35 and expect to win.”

The Georgetown defense displayed its grit in the opening quarter as Fordham pushed the ball within the 20-yard line twice but only came away with six points on two field goal tries. Down 6-0, a Georgetown drive stalled with four minutes left in the half.

But a roughing the kicker penalty gave the offense new life, and on the ensuing play, Johnson hit Dereus for a 57-yard completion down to the Rams’ 10-yard line. Johnson then found freshman wide receiver Max Edwards for a 12-yard score two plays later to tie the game at 6-6.

Dereus’ contribution to this team has not gone unnoticed by Johnson, who ranks Dereus highly among the other receivers he has played with, including those at Arizona State University.

“[Michael Dereus] is probably the best receiver I have been able to throw to and by far the fastest person in this entire league. When he’s flying down the field, it makes my job a lot easier, with his speed and abilities, to make the big play,” Johnson said.

However, just as Georgetown was taking control of the game, its special teams unit derailed that momentum. Sophomore kicker Brad Hurst’s extra point attempt  was blocked and returned by Fordham for a two-point conversion, allowing the Rams to retain the lead at 8-6 going into halftime.

The Hoyas have had trouble kicking this whole year and tallied their fourth blocked kick on the season in what would prove to be a big play for the Rams.

Georgetown found some rhythm on offense coming out after halftime, driving down and kicking a field goal to take a one-point lead with 5:38 left in the third. But Fordham’s offense quickly answered, scoring a touchdown in five plays.

The drive was led by standout junior wide receiver Austin Longi, who scored Fordham’s lone touchdown and tallied a total of 13 receptions for 150 yards.

Aside from the late comeback drive, the Hoyas’ defense continued to force punts as the game turned into a field position battle down the stretch. The Blue and Gray’s return to form on defense was led by the season-high 11 tackles of senior linebacker Daniel Yankovich and the return of a pass rush in the form of three sacks, half of which belonged to sophomore defensive lineman Khristian Tate.

Tate was named a Patriot League Honorable Mention for his play.

The increased pressure on the quarterback was a key component of the defense’s improved play against Fordham, Tate said.

“Pressure was really important. I feel like if we get pressure on the quarterback, then we’re always this close to getting an interception. So it’s always about trying to create turnovers, and getting to the quarterback is integral to that, so we work our moves and try to go get him,” Tate said.

All scoring ceased in this defensive battle throughout the end of the third and into the fourth as both offenses struggled to move the ball.

Fordham looked like they might break through one more time as they moved the ball deep into the red zone again with nine minutes left in the game. But the Hoyas’ defense came up with another big stop and forced the Rams to settle for their third field goal of the game, pushing their lead to only eight points at 17-9 due to an earlier missed two-point conversion try.

The three field goal tries deep in the red zone were key to keeping the Hoyas in the game, a fact that Coach Sgarlata sees as a silver lining despite the ultimate outcome.

“It’s huge, and we told the kids they need to do their job in critical situations, and they did this week. This last week, we gave up over 50 points, and we said as a defense, we don’t do that,” Sgarlata said. “So the kids took a lot of pride in coming out today and taking a stand defensively and that kept us in it, especially forcing those field goal tries.”

Down the stretch, Georgetown’s offense could not muster the comeback drive needed to surmount the eight-point lead, not managing to gain a single first down before Fordham was able to run down the clock.

The Hoyas look to regain their rhythm on offense as they face their third league opponent, Holy Cross (2-6, 1-2 Patriot League), in Worcester, Mass. on Saturday.

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